Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Pregnancy Fairness Bill Passes in Illinois

Bill guaranteeing the right to reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers to become law after unanimous vote

 

CHICAGO – On May 28, 2014, the Illinois legislature unanimously passed HB 8, a bill ensuring that pregnant women can receive the same types of reasonable accommodations, such as a permission to sit down periodically or the right to carry a bottle of water, that employers already provide for other workers who require temporary adjustments for their health. 

“This bill is simply common sense,” said Anne Ladky, Executive Director of Women Employed. “A woman should not have to choose between a healthy pregnancy and supporting her family. Many people thought that this was already the law. Now, fortunately, they’re right.”

Women such as Rosaura Villanueva, a former warehouse worker, are all too aware of the extent of discrimination facing pregnant workers. “I was pregnant at my job and my supervisor told me ‘quit your job or lose your baby.’ I know first-hand how important this new law is for pregnant workers.”

Like Villanueva, most women will become pregnant during their careers. In Illinois, women of  childbearing age make up 54 percent of the workforce, and two-thirds of American women work during their pregnancy. Many of these women are working to support themselves and their families; women are the primary breadwinners in 41 percent of American families and either primary or co-breadwinners in 64 percent of families, and most women will become pregnant during their careers. This legislation will help both the women it protects and the families who rely on their paychecks.

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn applauded this step forward in working women’s rights. “This is a landmark bill that will end a common but often overlooked form of workplace discrimination and make Illinois a better place for our moms-to-be,” declared Governor Quinn. “I commend Women Employed for their hard work to pass this important legislation. I look forward to signing it and continuing the progress we’ve made to protect and empower women in Illinois.”

Women Employed worked along with coalition partners such as the ACLU of Illinois and the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law to draft the bill and convince legislators that the law is vital for both pregnant workers and the families who rely on their paychecks. “This is a great victory for working women,” said Melissa Josephs, WE Director of Equal Opportunity Policy. “We’re proud to be setting an example in Illinois for the kind of legislation that we hope will pass at the federal level in the form of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Our dream is to guarantee these basic protections for all pregnant workers in the United States, and this is an important step toward that dream.”

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About Women Employed

Women Employed mobilizes people and organizations to expand educational and employment opportunities for America’s working women. Founded in 1973, we have spent four decades opening doors, breaking barriers, and creating fairer workplaces for women. For more information, visit www.womenemployed.org. Visit us on social media at FacebookTwitterPinterest, and LinkedIn.